2019 Middle Sea Race | Elusive 2 Takes the Win – Sail+Leisure
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2019 Middle Sea Race | Elusive 2 Takes the Win

by Ingrid Hale

After battling slack winds and light conditions, Elusive 2 (MLT) is the overall winner of the 2019 Rolex Middle Sea Race! Skippered by the Podesta family, who have been a part of the Middle Sea Race since its beginnings in 1968, the Maltese yacht took plaudits in an edition that required steadfast persistence and patience in conditions that veered from mentally sapping light winds to physically punishing intensity.

Family entry Aaron, Christoph and Maya Podesta’s First 45 Elusive 2 secured the top spot at 16:30 CEST on Thursday, 24 October, as none of the remaining yachts yet to cross the finish would have been able to better the time posted by the Maltese yacht.

“Preparations for next year always start immediately after the present race has finished,” admits Christoph Podesta who, despite the crew’s detailed and rigorous preparation, was pessimistic ahead of this year’s race. “The first half was going to be downwind and light which doesn’t suit us. Our goal was to keep ourselves in the right position until we rounded Favignana.” This they did with assurance. Once the wind strength intensified at the northwest corner of Sicily, Elusive 2 made the most of the upwind sailing to the finish, prevailing in the face of a seriously testing and uncomfortable sea state. Confirmation that the Podestas and their crew fully deserved their success is evident throughout, but perhaps the need to overcome defending champion Courrier Recommandé, which finished second overall, is the clearest affirmation. “The name Elusive has been associated with the race for 18 years and it is an unbelievable achievement to win against the best,” remarked Aaron Podesta.

Elusive 2 is the first Maltese winner of the Mediterranean’s highly-regarded 606nm offshore classic since 2014, and the eighth Maltese winner in the 51-year history of the race.

Crew: Maya Podesta, Aaron Podesta, Christoph Podesta, David Anastasi, Gareth Grech, Ben Pace Lehner, Andrea Crocella, Tom Zammit Tabona, Adrian Stone, Magnus Everskog.

Rambler takes Line honours

George David’s Rambler claimed line honours on Tuesday, 22 October. The American Maxi crossed the finish line off of Valletta, Malta at 08:13:00 local time, completing the course in a time of two days, 19 hours and 43 minutes. In the process, Rambler extended her record of consecutive line honours victories to five. The finish time though was significantly off the race record (47 hours, 55 minutes and three seconds) which David himself set in 2007. Rambler had undergone significant optimisation over the past winter to improve her performance in lighter wind conditions.

The first half of the race, north towards the notorious Strait of Messina, on to the volcanic island of Stromboli and, then, to Favignana on the north-west corner of Sicily, was painfully slow. The Rambler crew performed admirably, avoiding wind holes and always moving. Despite a Herculean effort and unrelenting persistence, they were unable to better the race record of 47 hours, 55 minutes and three seconds which stands for another year. “This is a great race,” said David. “It is challenging to keep it all together and we take huge satisfaction in taking line honours for the fifth consecutive time”.

Monohull Line Honours Winner, George David, owner of Rambler.

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